Shedders: the book

Shedders is now available from Amazon (buy here).

….Or peruse from the chapters below to sample the book.


Chapter 1. Manyana, New Year’s day

Chapter 1, part 2

Six friends holidaying together (in Manyana, NSW) conceive the idea of creating a retirement community together. I confront my own ambivalent feelings about living with others – and with these people in particular.
Chapter 2. The team meets What might this community look like? The six of us explore creating a vision and I discover how strongly I am drawn to this project.
Chapter 3. Here, there and everywhere Over the course of a year and a half, we scour the countryside for just the right property, learning   uncomfortable things about ourselves and each other in the process
Chapter 4. We’ll take it Finally, we align. For better or for worse, we discover the property that satisfies us all. It feels like a real stake in the ground of my future.
Chapter 5. Becoming Shedders There is more to being Australian, and to owning a rural property – with a big green shed – than I ever dreamed of.
Chapter 6. Getting to know you There is a LOT more to owning a rural property than I ever dreamed of.
Chapter 7. Try before you buy Perhaps we should try living together in the city for a couple years before we embark on building a communal house in the country. But where will we ever find a rental spot for 3 couples (actually, 6 fussy adults, a disgruntled teenager and 2 cats).
Chapter 8. Rogue ocean liners This is getting too hard. We will never align on the right timeframe. The chapter recaptures the drama of one of many episodes where we have to deal with frustration and antagonism – our own and each other’s. We practice all we know about communication.
Chapter 9. Heaven on the harbour To our amazement, the perfect rental, a big house right on the harbour in Sydney, falls into our hands – though not without serious battle. This chapter, told through our email and other electronic communication, describes the personal challenges as we confront what we are doing – actually living together.
Chapter 10. Almost famous (part 1)

Chapter 10. Almost famous (part 2)

Our project catches the attention of a film company interested in its social implications. It should be fun   becoming stars in our own life-story, right?
Chapter 11. Yours, mine and ours As we move together into the big   house in Longueville, I discover how challenging it is to share possessions, to have my own tastes judged, and to accommodate the tastes of others.
Chapter 12. Family, friends and other interlopers A lesson in generosity and inclusiveness begins. How do I learn to love someone else’s cat, siblings, children,   friends?
Chapter 13. Show me the money To embark on this journey together, we need to understand each other’s finances. One afternoon, hearts in throats, we lay it all out on the table.
Chapter 14. The greening of Mitchells Island This chapter is a series of stories about how, while still living in the city, we take real ownership of our property and begin to shape the land to our vision.
Chapter 15. Second thoughts Maybe this project wasn’t such a good idea after all……or maybe it was. Our commitment deepens.
Chapter 16. Make yourself a home We find the perfect character to design a house for us, and confront (a) our lack of knowledge about architecture, and (b) our strong and individual tastes.
Chapter 17. Signed in blood We need an agreement in case it all falls apart at some stage. But I don’t enjoy working on it.
Chapter 18. Scenes from the Shed door My husband Rick and I finally move up to the property and into The Shed. We hire Scrubby, a real local character, to slash the weeds. I spread my father’s ashes. I begin to create communities around me. Trevor, who is taking out unwanted pine trees, rolls his bobcat down the hill. Rick and I review the financial savings our project is giving us.
Chapter 19. Ready, set, go We find the perfect person to build our big new house, but just as we’re about to get started…
Chapter 20. Train wreck coming (part 1)

Chapter 20. Train wreck coming (part 2)

….one of the couples decides to pull out of the project. I – and everyone else – draw on all our skills in communication, negotiation and conflict resolution to say the unspeakable, hear the unhearable and get back into relationship.
Chapter 21. Madam project manager I accept the role of project-managing the building of the house, a wonderful opportunity for learning a little about construction and a great deal about myself.
Chapter 22. Blowout Whatever had us think we could be the only people to build a house without overspending?
Chapter 23. Here’s to us


Seven years from when the idea was born, the house is finished and we move in together. It is a moment worthy of deep celebration.Happily ever after? Three years after move-in day, The Shedders are doing well.
Twelve easy lessons

In this appendix, I share some of the learning we acquired from the journey.